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Horse Racing Picks and Analysis: Belmont Stakes | Saturday, June 20

Ben Rasa



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It has been a crazy 2020, but I never anticipated typing that the Belmont Stakes is set to kick off the Triple Crown. Typically, the Belmont is the last leg of the Triple Crown, following the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes. For the last 95 years the Belmont has been run at a mile and a half, but this year sees the race adjusted to a mile and an eighth, which is another sentence I never imagined typing.

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Even though this is not your normal Belmont, we still have a field of 10 horses ready to try and take their shot at the first leg of the Triple Crown. Unfortunately, part of the story is who is not here as Charlatan needed a month of rest after the Arkansas Derby, while Nadal and Maxfield both sustained injuries that probably ended their racing careers. All three of these horses would have been towards the top of the betting odds which means we have an opportunity for some newcomers to get in the mix and possibly pull an upset.

Belmont Stakes

Post Time: 5:42 p.m. EST Saturday, June 20 at Belmont Park

Post, Horse, Trainer, Jockey, Odds

1. Tap It to Win, Mark Casse, John Velazquez, 6-1

We have a serious contender right off the bat with Tap It to Win. This was a horse with little to no buzz until a bullet showing on June 4 at Belmont in an allowance race. He shows speed immediately and comes in with two straight wins after some ugly performances late in 2019. His stock is sky high and the shortened distance should help this horse looking to go wire to wire from the rail.

2. Sole Volante, Patrick Biancone, Luca Panici, 9-2

This horse has the complete opposite running style, but that does not mean he is not a serious threat. Sole Volante ran just nine days before the Belmont Stakes, so the question of stamina and fatigue are legit issues. He has six starts under his belt and has never finished worse than third so clearly they need to be considered in exotic wagers. The one thing to remember about horses that like to start way back is that they are reliant of speed upfront as they need the fast fractions in order to close. The shortened distance probably doesn’t help this horse, but the talent is undeniable, and he will be charging as the field turns for home.

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3. Max Player, Linda Rice, Joel Rosario, 15-1

There is not a ton of buzz here with Max Player who also should be stalking the early pace looking for a closing run. This horse hasn’t raced since February 1 so we do not have a ton of recent results to go off of. Three starts in the career with two wins and one second is a quality resume, but the step up in competition is a tough ask for this horse.

4. Modernist, Bill Mott, Junior Alvarado, 15-1

This horse is another one who will be pressing the leaders early, but not necessarily setting the pace. Modernist has a few stakes races under his belt and ran third at the Louisiana Derby back in March. Their only race at this track was his first ever back in September 2019 and it was a disappointing fifth-place effort. Clearly this horse has improved since then, but he doesn’t seem to have the talent of the top horses here and unless the odds drift upward, this is a pass for me.

5. Farmington Road, Todd Pletcher, Javier Castellano, 15-1

I may sound like a broken record, but this is another dead closer who should be trying to charge late. Farmington Road sits at 15-1 on the morning line and has a solid combo with Pletcher and Castellano aboard. The problem is, like most of these horses, he will be heavily reliant on a speed duel upfront so that he can charge late and overtake the horses that were more forwardly pressed. If that doesn’t happen, it will be game over, and even if it does, Sole Volante is also going to be charging.

6. Fore Left, Doug O’Neill, Jose Ortiz, 30-1

This is a longshot at 30-1, but Fore Theft should be one of the only horses pressing Tap It to Win to set that opening pace. It’s a tough risk/reward as going too fast is a quick way to get completely blown off the track, but the best shot is to set slow fractions and go wire to wire. This horse has not run much in 2020 with just one start, but it was a win so the form could be worse.

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7. Jungle Runner, Steve Asmussen, Reylu Gutierrez, 50-1

This is a mega-longshot at 50-1 so there isn’t much to say. Reylu Gutierrez gets the mount and has some top-end experience for the Steve Asmussen-trained horse. Jungle Runner is another closer, but he would need an earth-shattering effort to grab a piece of the board and there is no reason to see that happening. If the pace doesn’t develop, he will not even be in the picture, and even if it does, he has to compete with the other closers who are more talented.

8. Tiz the Law, Barclay Tagg, Manny Franco, 6-5

Simply put, this is the horse to beat and it may not be close. Tiz the Law sits at basically even money with a 6-5 morning line and has four career wins in five career starts. He has experience against the best of the best with two Grade 1 stakes wins already, including the Champagne Stakes run at Belmont Park. His last race was another impressive one in the Florida Derby and this horse would have been among the favorites regardless of who else was in the field. He will be sitting close to the lead ready to make his move and won’t be reliant on the horses in front of him.

9. Dr Post, Todd Pletcher, Irad Ortiz Jr, 5-1

This is an interesting horse as Dr Post is getting some love in the morning line, sitting at a respectable 5-1. He doesn’t have the resume of horses like Tiz the Law, but still has two wins in his three career starts. He has as good of a combo as you could want with Todd Pletcher and Irad Ortiz aboard, so that’s another positive angle that you can bank on.

10. Pneumatic, Steve Asmussen, Ricardo Santana Jr., 10-1

Last horse on the outside post is Pneumatic who sits at 10-1 on the morning line with Ricardo Santana Jr. aboard. He also has three starts two wins on the resume, but not as much experience against top-end talent. He hasn’t seen this Belmont Racetrack before and ran third in his only graded stakes appearance. The positive is that the winner of that race was Maxfield, who isn’t here, so it is possible the competition was stronger than it seems. He is middle of the pack in terms of pace so I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s closely contesting the frontrunners throughout.

The Picks

Winner: Tap It to Win

Exacta: Tap It to Win and Sole Volante

It is hard to argue with Tiz the Law being the favorite as he is the best horse in this field and has the most experience running in top-tier races. That doesn’t mean we are going to see him dominate here and, at odds of roughly even money, I want to go elsewhere.

The explosive nature of Tap It to Win has me intrigued as he showcased how high the upside is in his last race. The competition was weak, but the speed figures were elite and that should translate regardless of who he is racing against. With there being more closers than pure speed in this race, he shouldn’t have a ton of pressure setting the pace and that should work to his advantage. In terms of the closers, Sole Volante is the best of the bunch and I expect to see a late rally from him. These are the two direct challengers to Tiz the Law and that’s where I plan to allocate my betting card for this race.

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*Ben Rasa (aka Jazzraz)* has been involved with sports and numbers for quite some time dabbling in the poker world , sports wagering and of course finding a home in the DFS world. While he enjoys playing NFL, NCAAF and NBA he has found his best advantage on the links with PGA and the Euro Tour. Jazzraz focuses on GPPs and uses a analytical approach to try and find pricing inefficiencies as well as trying to go against the grain to find those under owned lesser know players that can make the difference in giant field tournaments. You can contact Ben by emailing [email protected].

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